The Champions League group stages came to an end on Wednesday night, whittling the competition down from 32 teams to 16.
The question on everybody’s lips was whether Barcelona would be capable of getting a result against Bayern Munich, knowing that Benfica were likely to overcome Dynamo Kyiv. Ultimately, Xavi’s side were nowhere near the level they needed to be at, and will indeed drop into the Europa League after tasting defeat in Munich.
Elsewhere, Chelsea failed to top Group H after being held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by Zenit, allowing Juventus to nip in and steal top spot, and a youthful Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Young Boys at Old Trafford.
Here are the full results from Wednesday night’s matchday six action.
Bayern Munich 3-0 Barcelona
Barcelona needed a positive result against Bayern Munich but they never really got going in a snowy Germany.
Xavi picked a back three to combat Bayern’s attacking trident of Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane – who were ably supported by one of the best attacking midfielders in the world, Thomas Muller, and wonder boy Jamal Musiala – but that defensive wall didn’t allow them to retain possession as they’d have wanted.
Jordi Alba limped off injured just before the half hour mark, and his departure was the catalyst for Bayern to score two goals in the space of ten minutes. Muller headed home Lewandowski’s centre to open the scoring, before Sane cracked home a thunderbastard from distance that Marc Andre ter Stegen will probably feel he should have stopped.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half for Barça, with Bayern extending their lead just after the hour mark. Musiala was the scorer, turning home smartly from close range after Alphonso Davies had bustled his way to the byline and cut the ball back.
There was no way back from there, with Bayern serenely sealing their progress through with six wins from six. As for Barcelona, time to play some Thursday night football.
You can read 90min’s player ratings from Bayern Munich vs Barcelona here.
Benfica 2-0 Dynamo Kyiv
Benfica started the night as favourites to beat Dynamo Kyiv, who are bottom of Group E, knowing they could qualify for the last 16 if Barcelona lost in Munich.
Pressure? What pressure!
Roman Yaremchuk fired the Portuguese giants into the lead in the 16 minutes to lift them up into second in the group, before Gilberto added a second just six minutes later. From then on, it was cruise control as Benfica did what they needed to do.
Man Utd 1-1 Young Boys
Manchester United’s place in the last 16 was already secure, and you could tell the pressure was off by looking at Ralf Rangnick’s team selection. Bold is how some would describe it, with United appearing to be in all-out attack mode.
It mattered not a jot in the early stages, as Mason Greenwood fired the Red Devils ahead after just nine minutes with a wonderful close range volley.
However, we all know that United can be fragile defensively, and it was another defensive disaster class from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Donny van de Beek that led to Young Boys’ equaliser. The former needlessly headed the ball into a dangerous area, the latter gave it away again cheaply after the ball had been recovered, and that allowed Fabian Rieder to ping home a beauty from 20 yards out.
From then on, Rangnick experimented and rang the changes, bringing on a number of youth players for first team debuts. That disrupted the flow of the game, but it’s clear to see what he expects from his side going forward.
Read 90min’s player ratings from Man Utd vs Young Boys here.
Atalanta P-P Villarreal
The other game in Group F should have seen Atalanta fighting Villarreal for second spot and a place in the last 16.
But the weather gods in Bergamo had other ideas, as continuous heavy snow rendered the pitch unplayable. With no sign of it letting up, the decision was made to postpone the game for 24 hours.
Wolfsburg 1-3 Lille
It was all to play for in Group G as, bizarrely, all four teams came into the final matchday with a chance of making it through to the knockout stages.
The first side to blink were Wolfsburg, who conceded early to Lille talisman Buruk Yilmaz. That goal extended the Ligue 1 side’s advantage at the top of the group, while leaving the Germans rooted to the bottom of the group and facing elimination from Europe altogether.
In the second half, and with Wolfsburg chasing the game, Jonathan David extended Lille’s advantage, before Angel Gomes – formerly of Manchester United academy fame – made it three with little over ten minutes remaining. Renato Steffen bagged a late consolation for Wolfsburg.
Salzburg 1-0 Sevilla
Over in Austria, Salzburg were the team to get their noses in front, courtesy of Noah Okafor‘s goal five minutes into the second half. The assister? One of the hottest properties in European football right now, Karim Adeyemi.
That strike proved to be enough for Salzburg, knocking Europa League specialists Sevilla into their favourite competition, while ensuring the Red Bull group do have one representative in the last 16.
Zenit 3-3 Chelsea
In the end, Chelsea needed victory against Zenit to win Group H – but Thomas Tuchel’s injury-hit side were unable to get the job done in a thoroughly entertaining game.
The Blues were hot out of the traps in Russia, with Timo Werner netting from close range after less than two minutes after Zenit failed to deal with an in-swinging Mason Mount corner.
But a funny five minutes just before half-time turned the game on its head. First, Claudinho headed home for Zenit after Chelsea failed to adequately clear their lines, before Ross Barkley’s error allowed Malcom to put Sardar Azmoun clean through on goal. The in-demand striker then rounded Kepa with ease, sliding into the ball into the back of the net to leave Tuchel looking less than impressed.
After (probably) a rocket from Tuchel at half-time, Chelsea came out in the second half with a little more purpose, and were rewarded with an equalising goal just past the hour when Romelu Lukaku fired home from close range.
The Blues then retook the lead through Werner five minutes from time, but a terrific strike deep into stoppage time from Magomed Ozdoyev ensured the game would end as a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Read 90min’s player ratings from Zenit vs Chelsea here.
Juventus 1-0 Malmo
Juventus pounced on Chelsea’s slip-up with a 1-0 win over Malmo at the Allianz Stadium.
The Old Lady have been far from their best for the majority of the domestic season, but came into this game having won four out of their five Group H games – that sole defeat being a thumping 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea.
But Massimiliano Allegri’s side got the job done in Turin, with victory handed to them by a Moise Kean header early in the first half. The Italian planted his effort home from close range after a terrific cross into the area from Federico Bernardeschi, sealing top spot ahead of the reigning champions of Europe.